Tasting T3.1 Australian Shiraz

After the success of our Australian Cabernet Sauvignon tasting (T3.2). Harry and I were really looking forwards to this one too.

We decided to kick off with a wine from Noon as they had impressed us so much with their Cabernet. The other wines come from some real heavyweights in the Australian Shiraz arena.

I remember reading many years ago that members of the Australian wine industry believed that the Syrah grape from the northern Rhone in France had its origins in the Iranian city of Shiraz.

There is a legend in the Rhone, that a knight called Gaspard de Sterimberg (founder of the famous Hermitage vineyard in 1224) had brought a Persian vine back from the crusades. In the 19th century a Scot named James Busby carried Syrah vines from Hermitage to Australia. He was aware of the legend according to his diaries so he decided to name his vines/wines as ‘Shiraz’ rather than Syrah.

For many years the Australian wine industry adopted this name. In 1998 a research group used DNA typing and discovered that Syrah was the offspring of two grapes; Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. Both are indigenous to the Rhone region of France and that there is no genetic connection between Persian grapes and the Syrah, or indeed Shiraz, grape varieties. Oh well!

Notwithstanding the above, the name Shiraz has come to define a style of Syrah that is made in Australia and other parts of the ‘new world’. The style and typical flavours for both names are spice, blue fruit, black fruit and pepper but Shiraz is much more fruit forward. It is powerful rich, ripe and intense. French Syrah is normally more herbaceous, floral and savoury, also often leaner and lower in alcohol.

Shiraz is made in around twenty-five different regions in Australia. The most famous is Barossa where half of all the vines plantings are Shiraz. Some of the vines date back as far as 1843.

Other most notable regions are McLaren Vale (including Langhorne Creek) and Clare Valley.

The wineries are,


Noon is a relatively small vineyard and winery in McLaren Vale. Grapes are also sourced from friends the Borrett family vineyards in Langhorne Creek just a few miles to the south. All their wines are produced from small vineyard blocks and made by hand so only in limited quantities. Much of this taken from our previous Australian Cabernet Sauvignon blog!


One of the most well-known wineries in Australia and even the world. Dr Christopher and Mary Penfold planted the first vines in 1844 in Magill Estate. Thus establishing the Penfolds wine company. By 1884 Penfolds was producing 1/3 of all South Australia’s wine. By 1907 it had become South Australia’s largest winery.

Today Penfolds has an extensive amount of vineyards across South Australia. Magill Estate, Barossa Valley, Mclaren Vale and Coonawarra just to name a few. They are revered in the wine industry for quality and control.  


Another extremely well known winery inside and outside of Australia. A much younger winery than perhaps first thought. Torbreck was founded in 1994 by David Powell. Their ‘mantra’ so to speak is to create exceptional Rhone style red and white wines.

Peter Kight purchased the winery in partnership with David Powell in 2008 and Powell left the winery in 2013. Ever since then Torbreck has maintained its quality driven wines and today is valued among wine critics and consumers alike.  


John Kirk planted the first vines in 1971 of this fabulous estate and it soon became celebrated as one of the best in the country. The estate first started on a 44 acre farm with one single vineyard being planted.

Now the estate covers 16.2 hectares with Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz. Over the 1990’s the estate was heralded as making extraordinary wines. The rest is history as they say… We would just like to say a massive thank you to Jim Wood for giving this bottle as a gift to my father!!


Ben Glaetzer is without doubt one of the finest young winemakers in Australia today. The Glaetzer family have been involved in viticulture in the Barossa Valley since 1888. Over a century later Colin Glaetzer (Ben’s father) established Glaetzer Wines with the purpose of producing premium Barossa Valley wines. Ben took over some time ago and has gone on to perfect the wines coming from this estate.

All of the fruit for Glaetzer wines is taken from a sub district of the northern Barossa Valley called Ebenezer. This district produces exceptional fruit from very old vines. Ben Glaetzer’s winemaking technique and style creates incredible wines with finesse, elegance and power.


Founded in 1997 by Kevin Mitchell, Kilikanoon was a long time dream of Kevin and Mort’s (Kevin’s father) so that they could create their own brand of wine. Mort has looked after the vineyards for over 40 years and Kevin has been creating exceptional single vineyard wines.

Like all of the vineyards tasted today, quality is at the forefront of Kilikanoon’s vision and boy do they deliver.

This evenings tasting was done by David, Harry, Kim and Jen.

So to the wines!

Noon - Reserve Shiraz 2014

The grapes for this wine have been sourced from the same ‘20 row block’ vineyard (planted in 1962) in Langhorne Creek. The first vintage of this wine was in 1997. This is a riper style than many, displaying blackcurrant fruit with a full body. Roughly 1/3 new French oak. 100% Shiraz

Nose: Deep red colour on first viewing. Aromas of chocolate, coffee, cigar and earth. Blackcurrants and eucalyptus coming through.

Palate: Dried blackfruits on the palate with an overwhelming note of earth and smoky hints. Gorgeous medium body with chocolate and coffee notes coming through with the moderate tannins. High acidity and a medium length finish make this a beautiful opening wine.

Penfolds – St Henri 2013

Sourced from a variety of regions, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Padthaway and Port Lincoln. Ageing is carried out in 50+ year old large oak vats for 12 months. This wine feels like it would last forever. 96% Shiraz and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Nose: Deep red colour on first viewing. Black fruit aromas with leather and chocolate. Extremely intense smell.

Palate: Thick and luscious full bodied wine with dark aromas of blackcurrants and cherries. Leather and chocolate very prominent. High acidity with full tannins, still definitely needing time to integrate. A good long finish shows that this wine is extremely promising. Needing a lot more time to age to hit its peak. This will sing in another 7-10 years minimum.

Torbreck – The Factor 2012

Produced from predominantly the Gomersal and Kalimna sub-regions of the Barossa. 100% Shiraz, the wine spends 12 months in 40% French Oak.

Nose: Deep red colour on first viewing. Blackcurrants, cherries, coffee, chocolate and leather. This is a power house.

Palate: So perfumed with a silky medium body. Smooth and so easy to drink, this a fantastic wine. The fruit is layered with chocolate and coffee seemingly working through to marvellous effect. Moderate acidity with moderate tannins, however still needing some age to hit full potential. A full length finish and this wine never seems to leave your mouth. Beautiful.

Clonakilla - Shiraz Viognier 2005

1991 (the year Kim and I were married) was the first year that a small proportion (6%) of Viognier was added to the (94%) Shiraz and this wine was therefore created.

Nose: Medium – deep red colour on first viewing. Dried black fruit aromas with chocolate and coffee. Aromas of cedar and leather as well.

Palate: This is a top quality wine. Smooth, supple and easy to drink. Gorgeous dried fruit notes with earth and woody notes seemingly just coming together. A medium bodied wine with high acidity and moderate integrated tannins. Elegant and concentrated, this is a sublime wine and the age is borderline perfect. A full length finish just rounds out this extraordinary wine.

Ben Glaetzer – Amon-Ra 2005

100% Shiraz from the Barossa Valley. Old vine fruit was sourced from the Ebenezer sub district. Vine age 50-130 years old. Matured for 16 months in 100% new oak hogshead barrels. Matured on lees to maintain fruit profile, bottled unfiltered to ensure minimal intervention with the wine.

Nose: Medium – deep red colour on first viewing. Earthy, farmyard and stewed dark fruits are powerful aromas coming out of this deep wine.

Palate: Intense and powerful notes transfer onto the palate. Stewed fruits, earthy farmyard with intense aromas. Gorgeous and luscious this full bodied wine is so elegant and yet powerful. Still with high acidity and moderate fine tannins. This wine will last for years to come. A full length finish just lingers in the mouth for minutes. An incredibly made wine.

Kilikanoon – The Oracle 2004

100% shiraz from the Clare Valley. Low yielding parcels of Shiraz were selected from each vineyard based on concentration of flavours. Vinification of each vineyard was done separately. Aged for 18 months in a careful selection of new and seasoned French oak casks.

Nose: Medium red – brown colour on first viewing. Dark fruits, chocolate and coffee. Darker prune aromas with earthy notes coming through as well.

Palate: Big and bold! Coffee, prunes are all really powerful. Beautiful mouthfeel with a full body. Really impressive with high acidity, fully integrated fine tannins. This wine is spectacular, the elegance and finesse of the wine is outstanding. A truly exceptional velvety wine. A full length finish rounds out this fantastic wine.


This was a mega tasting. All big name wineries. All big and powerful wines. However, the elegance that was displayed was immensely impressive. Fortunately for you all, 3-4 of these wines are very reasonably priced. So I would highly recommend purchasing a bottle or two of any of these. They are all excellent and will give you a fantastic idea of Barossa Shiraz.

The scores:

Reserve Shiraz 2014 – 91 Points

St Henri 2013 – 92 Points

The Factor 2012 – 95 Points

Shiraz Viognier 2005 – 97 Points

Amon-Ra 2005 – 97 Points

Oracle 2004 – 99 Points

Really one could argue that this was a two part tasting. Firstly tasting wines approaching their 10th birthday. Secondly tasting wines approaching their 20th birthday. Neither disappointed and honestly the Oracle was closer to 100 points than any other wine we have tasted so far. These wines were outstanding and I feel extremely lucky that we were able to taste them.

Thank you for reading as always and see you next week for a very different kind of tasting!

Not to be missed!!

David & Harry  

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